It’s that time of year when thousands of romance authors converge on a central location, decided in advance by our parent organization, Romance Writer’s of America. We gather for camaraderie with fellow authors, attending workshop after workshop, while we greet old and new friends alike.
In some cases it’s been a year since we last saw each other, in other cases it’s been a few years, and there’s always the chance that it’s a first meeting for some. In the days of social media galore there’s always the chance that you’ve known someone for years, but never met. At RWA’s national conference that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re all there for one thing… to talk about stories. We’re there to learn, talk about what makes us happy, and strive to become better writers.
I love seeing everyone and hearing what they’ve been up to. The problem is that I’m an introvert. Most writers are. The great thing about being an introvert is that if you get us in a room with other introverts and we all have a common love, for example writing, then we’re going to talk your ear off. Those cows will have come, gone, and been back before we even take a breath for fresh air. The excitement is off the charts and the noise will break records. Sometimes you have to sneak away for a bit just to recharge. However, these are the things that I love about it!
In New York I taught a presentation on forensic anthropology. Last year I had to cancel due to illness at the last minute. For some reason, they don’t like for you to fly when you’re waiting to find out if you have meningitis… This year I’m going to attend as many presentations as I can on my craft.
Can you imagine any other place that’s better to learn than from attending presentations by authors that have gone before you?
There’s going to be so many authors, editors, publishers, and agents! They’re all excited too! We’re all there to talk about stories and it’s human nature to love stories. We have told stories going all the way back to caveman days. We have just advanced our level from paintings on walls to books that are 600 pages long and can be a part of multiple series.
This conference is the main event that I am absolutely jump up and down excited for every year.This is the time to refresh our creative well, find a new way to doing things, and improve ourselves. This is also the time to find out how to grow our businesses, our stories, and our characters. Every year I learn a hundred new things and I’m always excited to see what comes next.
RWA17 will be a bit different from years past because the RITA and GoldenHeart ceremonies are going to be held in the beginning of the conference, not the end. The winners will have the whole conference to showcase their win. Unfortunately, this means the finalists that didn’t win have the whole conference to know they didn’t win. I hope they still realize that they did amazing by getting so far! I also hope they still get the ribbon that says “Finalist” on it because there’s something awe-inspiring to me about that. I hope one day to make it that far. I also hope that when I do (notice how I said when and not if) that I’ll keep in mind that it’s ok if I don’t win and not let it make me sad. My friend Heather Leonard, attorney by day and romance author by night, is up for her second GoldenHeart nomination. I really hope she wins it this year, but if she doesn’t then that’s ok too. She’s inspired me by just being a finalist.
I also like the fact that we can meet with editors and agents there at RWA. It makes it a bit less scary than sending a blind pitch off into the night, in the hopes that someone might like it and ask for more. A lot of times the editors and agents at the conference are just hoping to find a story that they think has promise. They look for so many different things that almost everyone has a shot. You just have to follow up and send it though… And do it quickly. If I had followed through quickly then I might have had a very different career than I have now. I’m ok with how things turned out, but it’s always fun to wonder how different they might have been.
As a hybrid author I love learning things from both sides. I can sit in presentations on indie (self) publishing, creating suspense/conflict, self care, editors look for, etc. I can skip a presentation if I want because there’s a chance it’s recorded, so I can attend another that’s not recorded. The conference app also houses the worksheets for presentations. This means that I can print them out beforehand to have with me during the presentation, which I love! Also, if I can’t attend a presentation then I have the worksheets and recordings for reference later.
If you’re an author and you get the chance to go to RWA’s national conference, do it. Don’t think about it, just do it. The knowledge that you gain from it, the respite you get from being around like minds, it’s worth it. It’s worth it to be with your tribe for a week because you’ll feel like you belong, even if you’re a wallflower like me.
I’ll see everyone in Orlando soon and it’s going to be amazing, wonderful, and brilliant!!